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Ready For Main Street?

Linux raises the stakes for networking


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Linux Heads Toward Main Street

by Dave Murphy
ISSN 1535-3613

Dave Murphy, ITrain founder In the midst of growing Linux activity, Linux inventor Linus Torvalds plans to announce Version 2.2.0 of the Linux kernel this coming week. Version 2.2.0 features improvements in file systems, multiprocessing, and security, as well as platform support for Sparc64, Alpha, and PowerPC.

What's new with 2.2? Version 2.2.0 adds several features beyond improved multiprocessor support that make Linux faster and more useful.

Among the kernel improvements:

  1. Better support for RAID, arrays of hard disks that servers use to protect data and speed disk access.
  2. Better firewalls, the programs that protect internal networks from the outside world. The new kernel makes Linux firewalls more powerful and makes it easier to configure the firewall to do things like filter out messages coming from certain addresses.
  3. Faster file access. Version 2.2.0 can store filenames in a high-speed cache in memory, meaning that users won't have to wait for the computer to retrieve the information off relatively slow hard disks.
  4. More hardware support, particularly for high-speed connection equipment such as Fibre Channel and Gigabit Ethernet.
  5. Smoother memory management. Users won't notice as much lurching in system speed as the computer moves data between its real memory and the memory overflow on hard disks known as "swap files."

Linux is quickly becoming a viable alternative to Microsoft's Windows NT for corporate network services. Many advanced users already employ Linux as a desktop operating system, and it's a potential competitor of Microsoft Windows 98 as a desktop OS.

I now use Red Hat Linux as a file and print server in one of the ITrain offices. And we'll be installing Linux in our headquarters office to supplement our currently-installed NetWare file servers. Although we use state-of-the-art hardware with at least 128MB of RAM and 8.6GB or larger disk drives, Linux runs just fine on a 386 box with 16-32MB of RAM and a gigabyte or so of disk space.

The Linux OS requires only a few hundred megabytes of disk space, the rest of the disk space is used for file storage, swap files, and printing services.

If you're in the IT business and you haven't tested Linux yet, get with it. It's the future of IT network services, and it's a snap to install and learn. I suggest buying Red Hat Linux at beyond.com -- for about $35 what have you got to lose? Sure you can download the software for free, but Red Hat's manuals are easy to read and walk you through the installation in less than 30 minutes.

And don't let the cheap price fool you; Linux is a great networking OS.

Red Hat
Linux Online


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updated January 23, 1999